Wrongful Termination Checklist

Your boss uses an employee termination checklist for two very important reasons, To Protect Himself and To Protect Himself! Some employers also use a wrongful termination checklist to make sure you, the intended target for firing or layoff is treated fairly.

So what is an employee termination checklist? It's a step-by-step process the employer uses to "ensure" it is "lawsuit proof" when the decision to let us go is made.

When employers terminate or layoff employees illegally it becomes wrongful termination and opens the door for you to file a lawsuit. Therefore, it only makes sense for businesses, organizations and governments to develop an unlawful termination checklist.

There are a lot of issues to be considered BEFORE and employer fires or lays off an employee. Employers understandably know how important a wrongful dismissal checklist is. That means it's very important for job applicants and employees to learn how an employment termination checklist can used to help them and especially against them!

Just saying, "you're fired" is not that easy for most employers. Unfortunately, most employees don't know or understand their Employee Workplace Rights. One of the biggest reason employers often find themselves embroiled in employee lawsuits involves incompetent training of management. When businesses "turn loose" managers and supervisors that foster bias and routinely violate the rights of employees disaster is sure to follow.

Much of the American workplace culture continues to "embrace" this business mindset. Thus, was born the need for employers to develop workplace termination checklist. From experience and in my opinion, most employers can and will do everything to protect themselves even when they are wrong. Wrongful termination laws are different depending on where you live in the U.S. Therefore the following employee termination exit checklist is not exhaustive. Here's how your boss will try to "cross the t's" and "dot the i's" before say "see ya".

employee termination checklist

Employee Termination Process

Offer Letter or Contract
The employer will review all the provisions and conditions associated with our employment. In the U.S. most employees are considered "At Will". The exceptions to this would be union or other employee contracts. If there are any employee contract guidelines your boss must honor them before terminating you.

What Justifies The Termination or Layoff?
There are typically three areas that are genuine business reasons for firing an employee.
  • Unsatisfactory Attendance
  • Unsatisfactory Job Performance
  • Unsatisfactory Conduct

Unsatisfactory Attendance
The employers requirements for showing up to work have to be specific with written documentation. These guidelines must comply with all state and federal laws involving Family Medical Leave, military service, disability, jury duty, school children activities and other issues. When our employers raise a question about our attendance problems we should have a legitimate reason such as our own or immediate family health reasons.

This will force the boss to consider our FMLA rights. If the attendance issue deals with some disability the employer must consider accommodations under the (ADAAA) Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act. Your boss has to his/her OWN policy and procedures involving problems employees may have in reporting to work.

My employer can't set a guideline of two weeks for me to correct my attendance problem and then fire me after only 5 business days. These expectations must be given to the employee in written documentation.

Unsatisfactory Job Performance
The expectation of employee performance should be the same for all employees with the same job title. Unfortunately, employee performance reviews are routinely conducted by poorly trained, incompetent or biased managers and supervisors.

employee termination checklist

Employee Termination Procedure

Employees should be told in writing that job requirements are not being met. A written detailed job description should always be used. It's important for employees to understand the employer can manipulate and will seek to use job evaluations to justify adverse action against us! It's critically important for career seekers and employees to learn all they can about employee performance appraisals because this is one of the main areas employers target when employees file lawsuits.

Our employers must tell specific state and federal agencies when they fire or lay us off. Your boss must also follow his/her own company policy and handbook guidelines associated with poor job performance. Some states also make it mandatory for bosses to state in writing the reason for firing you.

Unsatisfactory Conduct
When employers terminate employees for violating company policy or misconduct, there are several guidelines that must be followed. Our bosses should;
  • determine why the unsatisfactory conduct occurred
  • inform the employee in writing what conduct is unsatifactory
  • apply the same standard for discipline for all employees
  • document by employee handbook, memo or policy and procedure standards of conduct
  • use prior employee misconduct in the decision to terminate
  • begin an investigation when the employee is accused of unsatisfactory conduct
  • give the employee a fair hearing of his/her side of the situation
Finally, your boss must act in "good faith" based on the above in deciding to fire you. In cases of "gross misconduct" an employee can be terminated immediately. Examples would be employee theft, workplace violence, alcohol or drug abuse, damaging and destroying employer property, guns or other weapons, etc.

employee termination checklist

Pre Termination Checklist

Other factors employers MUST consider BEFORE firing us involves respecting and protecting employee workplace rights.

Unfortunately, businesses and organizations consistently and routinely out of ignorance or by design do just the opposite.

Workplace discrimination and workplace retaliation complaints filed with the (EEOC) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are at all time highs!

The following provides additional important information and insight for career seekers and employees on what a termination procedures checklist should contain.
Revisit arbitration agreements
Employers may approach you about signing an arbitration agreement before firing you.

Security and access issues
Your boss will take steps beforehand to revoke all your passwords and building access.

Review the personnel file
You can bet your boss will use your personnel file and every negative thing in it to justify firing you.

Non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements
just like arbitration agreements this could be a red flag if your supervisor approaches you about reviewing or signing this document.

Retrieval of timesheets
Another potential warning sign may be your boss wanting the records used to bill company customers that you provide professionals services to.

Does the termination violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
If your employer has 15 or more employees the termination can't be based on religion, race, gender, pregnancy, disability, national origin or age.

Is the termination retaliation?
It is illegal to fire an employee for engaging in legally protected activity. These can include, talking about filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, requesting medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or complaining about your employment classification under the (FLSA) Fair Labor Standards Act.

Written Warnings
Your boss should provide a clear written set of guidelines giving you an opportunity to correct any failures to meet the requirements of the job. The employer should in good faith make available any resource or training needed for the employee to achieve mandatory levels of performance in a stated period of time.

employee termination checklist

Employment Ending Checklist

The Termination Letter
In an employee termination checklist our employers will usually have a letter of termination prepared. As a part of the employee termination checklist should specifically outline the precise reason for the termination. It should also document all steps taken to correct the problem before the firing became the only option. Since there are different reasons for termination each termination letter will be unique.

Employer Property
Employees should understand as a part of the employee termination checklist the employer will expect the return of all property provided to the employee to perform the job. For example, laptop personal computers, company cars, company documents, etc. There has evolved a new area of controversy relating to employer property. This deals with the affect social media continues to have on the workplace. A recent case over who owns a twitter account and password, the employer or former employee,twitter account tug of war.

The Termination Meeting
Obviously the employee termination checklist should involve a meeting with the employee targeted for firing or layoff. The person designated to carry out the termination may be a supervisor, HR person or company owner. These individuals may use an agenda that includes reasons for the termination or layoff.

They will also usually have another manager to witness and support the employer. Many times these meetings are carried out with amazing incompetence by supervisors and others who receive little or no training. Career seekers and employees should learn all they can about this part of the termination process. This meeting can be one of the best opportunities for gathering information helpful to filing any subsequent lawsuit.

employee termination checklist

Employee Dismissal Checklist

I previously stated an employee should ask the employer for a specific reason or reasons for the termination. Most career seekers and employees don't know your boss is not required by law to give exact reasons for the termination! The employer may try to avoid a discussion to avoid saying anything the employee may be able to use in a potential lawsuit. Likewise, the employee being terminated or laid off should avoid saying anything the employer may be able to use.

As a part of the employee termination checklist a manager may offer you an opportunity to resign. This can be a BIG RED FLAG for two reasons...
  • The termination may be a pretext for discrimination and the employer wants you to "sign off" in agreement. In other words get you to help them "cut your own throat". Now there are some employers who will act in good faith when separating from employees for various reasons. Nevertheless, I would make absolutely sure I knew all the ramifications of accepting a resignation offer. I would ask questions such as why are they making the offer?
  • Unemployment Benefits!

Employees that voluntarily resign are NOT eligible to receive unemployment benefits!!!

Many employers hope terminated employees are ignorant of this. Why? Because your boss has to pay a portion of them! So I'm always leery of an "offer to resign". This would be an excellent opportunity to quiz your boss about why your are being given the opportunity to resign. He may let some things slip that may point to the true reason for the termination. Do yourself a favor and learn all you can about filing an unemployment claim.

When finalizing the employee termination checklist your boss may want you to cooperate in whats often called an "exit interview". This will usually be done with another management level person such as human resources. The employee is typically provided with written notice of the action taken for termination or layoff. Again, just as with the offer to resign I raise the BIG RED FLAG here as well. Think about it, you've just been fired or laid off. Now your employer wants to ask you a series of questions like...

employee termination checklist

  • Were you able to work with your manager?
  • What did you like least about the organization?
  • What are your plans going forward?
Hmmm....the answers to these and other questions CAN and WILL be used against you if and when you choose to sue! Post termination meetings or interviews may be of value to the employer. However, for the average employee adversely terminated there is little benefit to be gained. There is no law that I know of absent an employee contract that requires a terminated employee to participate in a termination exit interview.

Typically, employee termination checklist exit interviews may be conducted by your supervisor, human resource person or other individual. After this "fact finding" interrogation your employer may ask if you have any final questions. This again can be the only benefit you get from this exchange. You have the opportunity to turn the questions back on the employer. For example....

  • What are the manager's conclusions on working with me?
  • What does the organization like least about me or my work ethic?
  • What plans does the organization have for the future?
  • Will my position be filled or phased out?

Your boss may also ask you to sign a termination exit interview form as a part of its employee termination checklist. In my opinion this is the final BIG RED FLAG in the process. Any signed document can be used for or against you. Everyone would or should want to leave an employment on favorable terms for both employer and employee. Unfortunately, that is now always possible because of bad behavior from both sides. Your boss will use an employee termination checklist to his or her best advantage not yours.

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